Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Aging Veterans May Soon Step Aside; the Dwindling China Marine Association's 18th Reunion Is This Week in Jacksonville

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Aging Veterans May Soon Step Aside; the Dwindling China Marine Association's 18th Reunion Is This Week in Jacksonville

Article excerpt

Byline: TERRY DICKSON

A dwindling veterans group, the China Marine Association, will gather this week in Jacksonville for its 18th annual reunion.

Composed of Marines who served in China before, during and after World War II, the 2,400-member association is likely nearing the end of its annual meetings, said past president James Hadaway of Waycross.

"We're thinking about phasing ourselves out in 2010," he said.

After its formation less than 20 years ago, the China Marine Association peaked with about 2,800 members eight years ago and has steadily declined since, he said.

The last Marines left China in 1949. The youngest of the China Marines is believed to be 74.

A fit 80, Hadaway said the reunions are held around the country and many of the elderly members have trouble traveling.

"It's sad to see them with their oxygen and walkers," he said.

Each reunion features a memorial service in which a bell is rung and the names of those who have died are read.

"It gets longer and longer," Hadaway said of the observance.

The Marines first went to China in the 1920s to guard strategic interests, the coal mines and railroads, and stayed for several years of the Japanese occupation. America was neutral, but as relations with Japan soured, President Roosevelt ordered the Marines out a few months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The Marines returned in October 1945 to accept the surrender of the Japanese Army and to repatriate 3,000 troops and 3,000 civilians. When the Communists took over in 1949, the Marines left again.

Hadaway said he enlisted in the Marines "because they had a better-looking uniform." He was a combat engineer, but like many others was an infantryman first and fought on Pelilu and Okinawa.

"When the [atomic] bombs were dropped, we were on Okinawa. We thought we were going home. Instead, we went to China," he said.

On the mainland, he resumed his duties as an engineer, which consisted of cutting out toilet seats for about a month, Hadaway said.

Among his keepsakes are a Japanese rifle and bayonet that he plucked from a pile of surrendered weapons.

"It hasn't been cleaned since 1945," he said. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.